Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has remained firm that the drug charges against her are nothing but pure invention designed to get back to her for her vocal criticism against the administration’s murderous war on drugs.
De Lima, the first prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime, maintained that the said case is a “sham” especially because the Prosecution’s Amended Information is not valid.
“Your Honor, this charge is pure invention, pure fabrication. It’s a sham case. So there’s nothing to plead to. So therefore, I refuse to enter a plea,” she told the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 205 last Aug. 10.
“The amended Information is a duplicitous charge, a flagrant violation of my constitutional right to be duly informed of the nature of the accusations against me. How can I be charged under a single Information with two distinct offenses? So I refuse your Honor,” she added.
After 18 months since her politically-motivated arrest and detention, De Lima has finally been arraigned for her case in Branch 205 but she refused to enter a plea.
It was the second time that De Lima refused to enter a plea to protest the validity of the charges against her after she also entered the same plea in relation to her case in Muntinlupa RTC Branch 206 two weeks ago.
In both Muntinlupa City RTC Branches 205 and 206, the Court entered a “not guilty” plea for the former justice secretary, pursuant to the Rules of Court.
Last Nov. 10, the Prosecution filed an Amended Information that drastically changed the crime imputed against the Senator from “illegal drug trading” to “conspiracy to trade illegal drugs,” a move questioned by her and her legal counsels.
De Lima has since maintained it was not a mere “amendment,” but in fact replaced and substituted an entirely new Information especially considering that there is a sudden exclusion of one of the co-accused, former National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Rafael Ragos.
Despite the downpour and the police’s deliberate effort to hide De Lima from the public’s eyes during the hearing, her avid supporters tirelessly protested the politically-motivated charges against her by chanting “Pekeng Ebidensya, Ibasura!” and “Leila de Lima, Palayain!” in front of the Muntinlupa City Hall of Justice.
Amid her continued unjust detention, De Lima refused to be silenced and intimidated by the continuous attacks on her person and credibility.